IBM’s Alphaworks site has always been a good source of information and downloadable software for people to gain insight to future collaboration environments. Not only does this type of outreach provide IBM with upstream feedback into the research process but enables it to respond before things get too locked down into product lifecycles. The recent addition of a blogging component, Weblog Preview, reinforces IBM’s Workplace message around organizational productivity.
By adopting a component-based model for blogging, IBM de-couples blogging from a “tool” approach and moves it into a services framework. Integration within Workplace enables the blogging component to inherit numerous infrastructure services (e.g., security) as well as management controls (e.g., publishing policies).
This is a significant announcement but not because IBM is getting into blogging.
Oftentimes organizations introduce tools into their environment rationalized as an application decision. Unfortunately, applications often come bundled with their own infrastructure and end up adding to the underlying complexity (and costs) of the overall IT environment. So if you believe (as I do) that blogging will become pervasive within enterprises over the next several years, then architects and infrastructure planners should be looking at blogging in terms of its service orientation rather than as a tool or as an application. There is an application layer of course but it is important to look at blogging as a composite application with related services that need to inter-connect with portal, content management, search, presence and other collaboration frameworks.
So good news: an industry leader in enterprise collaboration views blogging correctly, not as a tool but as an application component within an SOA framework supported by underlying services that compliment infrastructure and operational investments. This is how the enterprise blogging market will likely evolve across all vendors pitching blogging and other social software "applications" (they'll need a services storyline). However, since this is an Alpaworks effort, there’s no short-term impact on the uptake of Workplace in the market.